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TikTok found a crazy hidden iPhone feature and no one believes it’s real

Published Jan 6th, 2022 4:20PM EST
iPhone Hack
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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With over 1 billion users, it’s perhaps no surprise that TikTok has become something of a haven for awesome iPhone tips and tricks. So while it may seem unusual, TikTok is brimming with videos highlighting awesome and hidden iPhone hacks. The latest example is something you need to see to believe. Actually, it’s something you need to hear to believe, thanks to Live Listen.

Recently, folks on TikTok unearthed something of a sneaky iPhone hack that enables users to listen in on conversations from nearly 50 feet away using Live Listen. Interestingly enough, this iPhone hack went viral after it was highlighted by actress Elizabeth Henstridge who you might know as Jemma Simmons from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Everyone loves Marvel content right these days, and now we’re even bigger fans of this particular Marvel series.

How the hidden iPhone hack operates

The basic gist of this trick is that you can set up your iPhone to always be in a “listening” state. From there, you can have the audio picked up by your iPhone and transmitted right back to your AirPods. Note that this iPhone trick also works with regular AirPods, Powerbeats, and AirPods Max.

Admittedly, it’s only natural to view this iPhone hack in the context of listening in on other peoples’ conversations. Still, it’s worth bringing to your attention as something of a safety warning. Specifically, if you see a random iPhone just laying around, don’t assume it’s safe to talk about sensitive information.

Apple describes the purpose of this feature as follows:

With Live Listen, your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch can act like a microphone that sends sound to your AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Powerbeats Pro, or Beats Fit Pro. Live Listen can help you hear a conversation in a noisy area or even hear someone speaking across the room.

How to set up Live Listen on the iPhone

To get started with this iPhone hack, make sure your AirPods are out and active. Next, select Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. Once you do this, you’ll see a list of apps that reside in the Control Center. You’ll also see apps that aren’t in Control Center. Keep on scrolling and you’ll see an option that says Hearing. Once you select that, hit the green plus icon whereupon it will now appear in the Control Center.

Following that, you’ll see an ear icon at the bottom of the screen when you call Control Center into action by swiping down from the top of the screen. If you tap the ear icon, you’ll see an option that reads “Live Listen.” Tap that once and any sound the iPhone picks up will be sent back to your AirPods if you’re in range. While this could be great for journalists trying to follow a press conference from the way back of the room, it may seem fishy for something you find at a cafe or cofees hop.

The following instructional illustration from Apple might make things clearer:

Live Listen
Live Listen Image source: Apple

If you’re having trouble setting this up, there’s no reason to fret. In this scenario, simply check that your Bluetooth is turned on and that your headphones are charged.

And lastly, the TikTok video that popularized this iPhone hack is viewable below:


so basically we’re all spies now?! Whaaaa? #livelisten #amitheonlyone who didn’t know?! 😂😳 #actorsoftiktok

♬ original sound – Alex and Jon

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.